Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) is a leading Russian university providing training in theoretical and applied physics, mathematics and cross disciplines. MIPT International Cooperation Centre Director Anna Shornikova outlines the perspective for international students studying at the university.
– How many international students study at the university?
– As of now, we have 814 foreigners from 54 countries. Another 209 students are taking internship and minor programmes, i.e. we have slightly more than 1,000 international students overall, or 12.5 percent of MIPT student body. MIPT plans to raise this indicator to 14 percent by 2020.
– What countries are represented at MIPT?
– Students from former Soviet republics (Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia) largely enrol in bachelor’s programmes. The University tries to seek out talented young people in all countries. We have several bright students from Venezuela and Madagascar taking master’s programmes in English. MIPT is vigorously cooperating with India and Iran. We also have interns from Europe: ten French students came on a six-month academic mobility programme this year. The university is launching cooperation with German colleges in Erasmus exchange programme; more international students are expected to come to our university next year.
– How many government-funded places were allocated to MIPT last year?
– We had 220 scholarship places on bachelor’s programmes; 211 of them were allotted to students; also, we admitted 17 people to master’s programmes in English. We have set rather serious requirements for prospective students who must have good knowledge in order to be admitted.
– Which fields of study are most popular with foreigners?
– Physical sciences, especially applied mathematics and physics gather a majority of international students. Applied mathematics, computer science, systems analysis and management are also popular, as is biological and medical physics. We are developing biotechnologies as one of the most promising fields of study in the world.
– As of now, we have nine such programmes; four were launched last year, and another five this year. They are all master’s programmes; we don’t have bachelor’s programmes in English as yet. As for fields of study, they embrace the whole range of subjects taught at the university, including mathematics, physics, cybersecurity and biochemistry. The most popular disciplines are aerodynamics, advanced combinatorics and mathematics.
– MIPT offers about 15 double degree programmes in collaboration with a Finnish university, a Norwegian university, Ukraine’s Academy of Science etc. Our senior students often take internships at partner universities.
– What does MIPT do for international students outreach?
– We hold academic competitions and take part in international exhibitions where prospective students and their parents can talk with MIPT representatives. This year, MIPT launched Phystech Academy online preparatory courses for schoolchildren from Russia and former Soviet republics. Our teachers conduct lectures and seminars training children in solving complex physics and math problems. As I said, we’re increasing the number of programmes in English; we plan to launch post-graduate courses in English because our international master’s students wish to continue MIPT studies in English.
– Does the university award extra grants to talented international prospective students?
– No, it doesn’t, but students are offered various benefits. Government-funded students are entitled to educational allowance and might expect extra funding. In addition, students can participate in research support programmes. For example, a master’s student might qualify for awards for their published scientific papers. MIPT held a student projects contest this year. An important MIPT study feature is that senior students are engaged in obligatory research at laboratories or MIPT departments. Research supervisors can involve them in the work on certain projects with the students paid as much as full-fledged project staff.
– Does MIPT have a preparatory department for foreigners?
– Yes, we have a preparatory course for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. The preparatory department currently trains 35 people who are mostly quota international students. They study Russian for a year (initially learning everyday vocabulary and later scientific terms), do physics and mathematics and if they pass final examinations MIPT admits them to first-year studies.
– The result largely depends on the student’s language learning ability or earlier training level, as well as on their native language. For example, Spanish students usually learn Russian easily. We have two postgraduates: one from Peru and another from Columbia; they speak fluent Russian, and although they have a slight accent they know all fine points of the Russian language. The Vietnamese settle into Russian environment quickly, too, but things are more difficult for the Chinese because our two languages are completely different. Also, they tend to stick together in a close-knit community, which greatly reduces their practice in Russian. International students learn Russian throughout all their MIPT studies, not only at the preparatory department. As a rule, they begin to speak Russian quickly, but writing skills are more difficult to master, especially the acronyms used in physics. To increase Russian language proficiency, MIPT holds catch-up classes. All international students eventually master Russian.
– We offer several short summer programmes; summer courses announcements are found on
MIPT website. Phystech.International takes place in summer; last year, some 100 people from foreign countries came for the programme. In winter, we hold a computer science school and programming contests. Students pay fares with their own money; we provide dormitory accommodation and meals.
– Could you tell about international students’ living conditions?
– MIPT has several dormitories accommodating international students: corridor-type buildings with a kitchen and a shower on the floor and free-of-charge laundry on the ground floor and suite-style ones having a kitchen with a refrigerator, and a bathroom with a washing machine. Each room accommodates two to four people. We have married couples among Iranian students. They come with their wives and children and take a family accommodation option. MIPT’s general policy is that foreigners’ living conditions should be the same as Russian students’. Dormitory fees are small amounting to some 12,000 roubles ($215) a year.
– MIPT has three dining halls at teaching blocks and one at a dormitory. First-years from Pakistan and India initially complain that the food is not spicy enough but later get used to it.
– How do students spend their leisure time?
– They have fun. MIPT hosts various events, festivals and concerts all the time involving foreigners who sometimes act as organisers. For example, they can mark their nation’s New Year or arrange cooking contests. We have sport societies and creative unions; I wouldn’t say all students are eager to join, but they have many options to choose from. We also take foreigners on sightseeing tours: last year they visited St Petersburg, this year, the destination was Kazan. Of course, tours of Moscow are available.
– Does MIPT Student Support Service operate on a permanent basis?
– MIPT supervisors work with students. We also enlist the assistance of student activists with a good command of English; they help international students; sometimes they go to the airport to meet them and give a hand in dealing with certain everyday issues.
– What advice on MIPT enrolment would you give to international applicants?
– I’d recommend preparing for enrolment in advance. It is useful to participate in MIPT academic competition in order to have an idea of the requirements and stay calm later. They might want to consider participation in online training courses and summer/winter schools. I understand that schoolchildren might find it difficult to select the field of study. Go for at least two or three options, attend a dedicated training course and find out details about entrance exams. If a student seeks a master’s degree from MIPT, I advise them to take internship first to get to know the university.
– Do you help applicants? Can they contact you?
– Of course, we consult them on all admission issues. We help them find their bearings and select a field of study; we provide a list of application documents etc.
– What are the key advantages of studying at MIPT for international prospective students?
– Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology is a top Russian technological university. MIPT studies are challenging but very interesting. Phystech students learn to quickly dig up information and get up to speed on new topics. Starting from fourth year, MIPT students can communicate with leading scientists. This enables them to join the global research community. MIPT graduates work in many countries, so our students can always rely on their colleagues for support. If you wish to get quality education, engage in research and communicate with acclaimed scientists Phystech would be your choice.